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12 Days | Pharaohs and Pyramids

(Click here to view all departure dates for this itinerary.)

Day 1 | Cairo, Egypt. Arrive in Egypt, “the gift of the Nile” as described by the Greek historian Herodotus, then transfer to the moderate deluxe Sofitel El Gezirah (or similar) on the banks of the Nile for a 3-night stay.

Day 2 | Cairo. Giza. This morning we take an excursion to the necropolis at Sakkara to see the world’s oldest step pyramid. After lunch, continue to the Giza plateau to behold the only Wonder of the Ancient World still standing: the Great Pyramids of Cheops, Kephren and Mykerinus. There, you experience the “ships of the desert” with a brief camel ride. Nearby, see the Great Sphinx, forever facing due east. Return to your hotel for dinner and a free evening to relax or explore on your own. (B, L, D)

Day 3 | Cairo. Today you see some of the sights of Cairo. A city tour takes you to landmarks like the iconic Citadel of Saladin and the Mosque of Muhammad Ali. Lunch is on your own at or near your hotel. This afternoon, tour Cairo’s Museum of Egyptian Antiquities to admire its huge collection of artifacts and visit the famous gallery displaying the riches of King Tutankhamen. Dine on your own in Cairo, or take an optional visit to Khan el-Khalili, a colorful outdoor souk (bazaar)—shop for traditional Egyptian goods and have dinner there. (B)

Day 4 | Luxor. Fly early this morning to Luxor, the city once known as Thebes, where history will be brought to life by our expert Egyptologist. Upon arrival, visit the Valley of the Kings and the temple of Hatshepsut—one of Egypt’s most successful pharaohs and one of her few female rulers—on the Nile’s west bank, opposite the city of Luxor. Also see Medinet Habu, the Mortuary Temple of Rameses III—walk through its monumental peristyle hall decorated with complex hieroglyphics. Proceed to your Nile cruise ship for check-in and a welcome lunch on board. This afternoon, visit the great templex of Luxor and Karnak, long buried beneath desert sands; walk through monumental peristyles and examine the hieroglyphics illustrating how ancient Egyptians lived. Return aboard for dinner and a relaxing evening, or attend an optional sound and light show at Karnak Temple. (B, L, D)

Day 5 | Luxor. Nile Cruising. Relax over breakfast, or (weather permitting) take an optional early-morning hot air balloon ride over Luxor’s temples and monuments. This morning’s excursion takes you to the sprawling Dendera Temple complex; walk through the stone entryway to view the columns and hieroglyphics of well-preserved structures such as Hathor Temple. Return aboard as we set sail for Edfu; lunch and dinner are served on board as we cruise along the Nile. (B, L, D)

Day 6 | Edfu. Kom Ombo. Aswan. This morning, visit the Temple of Horus in Edfu, built during the Ptolemaic Dynasty to honor the falcon-headed god. Have lunch on board while sailing toward Kom Ombo. There, you take a guided tour of the unusual double temple dedicated to both Horus and the crocodile god Sobek, a fertility deity thought to have created the world. Return to your ship and continue cruising up the Nile. We arrive at Aswan during dinner; this evening, attend a Nubian party featuring the evocative traditional music of the region. (B, L, D)

DAY 7 | Aswan. After breakfast, visit the small, elegant Philae temple, dedicated to Isis, rescued from the rising waters. This temple is one of the Nubian monuments that comprise a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tour the Aswan High Dam, completed in the 1960s, before lunch on board. This afternoon, take a scenic ride on a felucca—a traditional Egyptian wooden sailboat—on the Nile. Dine on board and spend the night in Aswan. (B, L, D)

Day 8 | Abu Simbel. After a final breakfast aboard, disembark your Nile ship and take a brief flight to Abu Simbel and proceed directly to the temples. These magnificent structures, renowned for their four giant seated figures, were built in the 13th century B.C. by Rameses II and are thought to depict him and his queen, Nefertari. The colossal structures were dismantled and moved to this new location during construction of the Aswan High Dam that created Lake Nasser—a major engineering feat in and of itself. After a guided tour, check in to your second ship for your Lake Nasser cruise and enjoy the afternoon at leisure. Tonight, enjoy dinner and a welcome cocktail on board, then relax or attend an optional sound and light show at Abu Simbel. (B, L, D)

Day 9 | Kasr Ibrim. Amada. This morning, we sail past the iconic Kasr Ibrim Fortress. Learn the story of the last Nubian monument remaining in its original location, and see it from the ship’s sun deck. Enjoy lunch on board as you cruise across Lake Nasser to Amada. This afternoon, tour the small but interesting Nubian Amada Temple—oldest of the Lake Nasser temples, it houses a collection of brightly painted historical carvings. Return aboard and dine as we sail to Wadi el Seboua. This evening, enjoy a Nubian show featuring traditional music, dance and costumes. (B, L, D)

Day 10 | Wadi el Seboua. This morning, disembark for a walk through the “Valley of the Lions”—a striking avenue lined with sphinxes. Then, tour the temple of Dakka, dedicated to the ibis-headed Thoth, and the Greco-Roman temple of Meharakka—both located at the Wadi el Seboua temple complex. Return aboard and have lunch and dinner on board as we sail toward Aswan. (B, L, D)

Day 11 | Aswan. Cairo. After a leisurely final breakfast aboard, disembark for a tour of the Temple of Kalabsha, which honors the androgynous Nubian sky and sun god Mandulis. We also visit the Nubia Museum to view treasures salvaged from temples and monuments flooded by the dam; the museum’s gardens are beautifully landscaped with terraced waterfalls. After a local lunch, head to the airport for your flight back to Cairo. Check in to the superior first class CityStars Cairo Hotel (or similar) for 1 night, then enjoy free time. Return to your hotel for dinner and an evening at leisure, or attend an optional sound and light show at the pyramids. (B, L, D)

Day 12 | Cairo. After breakfast, proceed to the airport for your return flight. Or, extend your journey for 4 nights in Jordan—see the lost city of Petra, the Dead Sea and the capital of Amman. (B)

NOTE: Itinerary is subject to change without notice. For the most up-to-date information, please refer to the itinerary schedule you receive with your final documents.

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